I vividly remember watching Jelena Dokic knock world number one and top seed Martina Hingis out of Wimbledon in 1999. The Australian was only 16 years old at the time, just a few months younger than I was, and despite coming through qualifying, she demolished the Swiss 6-2, 6-0, becoming the first qualifier ever to beat the world number one at the All England Club.

However, despite Dokic reaching number four in the world, her career was far from plain sailing. She details the struggles she endured in her new book, ‘Unbreakable’, released a couple of weeks ago in her homeland and due to be released in the UK in the new year.

At the hands of her father, who also coached her from a young age, Dokic suffered years of physical and mental abuse. She has alleged that she was whipped with a leather belt and kicked in the shins if she did not train well and that she was regularly left bloodied and bruised.

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In the book, Dokic also describes how her father would shout at her after losses, telling her that she was an embarrassment and a disgrace. Such was the severity of the abuse, she ultimately developed suicidal thoughts.

Following her retirement from tennis, Dokic became a coach and she is now estranged from her father, despite several attempts by her to reconcile. There are few sports fans who have no interest in her journey and as a result, her book immediately shot to the top of the best-seller list in Australia and such is the extraordinariness of her story, it is likely to do similarly well in Europe.

The treatment dished out by Dokic’s father is, of course, extreme. There is not a person on this earth who will read Dokic’s account of her tennis career and not feel appalled by how she was treated. The abuse Dokic’s father exposed her to has little to do with sport and far more to do with him being a seriously flawed person who took his issues out on his child.

However, while Dokic’s case is extreme, it should also serve as a warning as to just how damaging parental pressure can be to a child. Dokic’s father is an outlier in terms of how severe the abuse was but he is not in any way unusual in terms of putting considerable and undue pressure on his child to achieve in the sporting arena.

The parents who stand on the sideline and relentlessly shout and scream throughout their child’s under-11s football game may not be physically abusing their child, but the damage caused is not insignificant. There is a huge difference between a supportive parent and a pushy parent yet still, too many cross the line. There are still a significant number of parents who think that shouting abuse on the touchline or constantly pressing their child as to why they did not win a game is the best way to help them improve. Clearly, it is not.

However, there remains something of a sense that it is acceptable for parents to go beyond being supportive and push their children to unreasonable lengths. Dokic has talked about how many around her knew how her father was behaving towards her yet they did nothing.

Often it is a case of the parent living out their own unfulfilled dreams through their off-spring but there is also a myth that for a child to achieve success in sport, they need pushed from outside forces, hat their internal motivation will not be enough.

In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Elite sport is too tough for the drive not to be intrinsic. However hard apparent pushes, if the child does not have the motivation themselves to chase success, they will rarely make it.

Despite the fact that Dokic was relatively successful whilst being abused by her father, that was not the reason for her reaching the upper echelons of tennis.

This applies to countless other children who showed some potential but were driven from sport at the hands of a pushy parent. Is seems reasonable to assume that at least part of the poor participation figures for children are down to them being put off sport for life by a bad experience in childhood.

Dokic’s case is particularly harsh, but her tennis journey should serve as a lesson - pushy parents do not help kids reach sporting success, they merely damage them, sometimes forever.